Sometimes when you write, you're finished from the start. Here's two I've started this week. The first is a reaction to a Times article on middle-aged career women quitting their jobs to take care of their indigent parents. The second is a review of the new Harry Potter movie.
In today's New York Times, there's an article titled "Forget the Career, My Parents Need Me At Home." The first two paragraphs tell the story:
WASHINGTON, Mich. - Until last February, Mary Ellen Geist was the archetypal career woman, a radio news anchor with a six-figure salary and a suitcase always packed for the next adventure, whether a third-world coup, a weekend of wine tasting or a job in a bigger market.The problem is that the first two paragraphs really do tell the story. The rest of the article is devoted to typical east-coast bashing of the midwest -- how this woman can't get white balsamic vinegar anymore, but still drives her Mercedes, etc. Who cares that this lady lives in one of Detroit's poshest suburbs -- it was even in Money Magazine as a "contender" for one of the best places to live in the country. Not New York or San Francisco, ergo the sticks. What sacrifice.
But now, Ms. Geist, 49, has a life that would be unrecognizable to colleagues and friends in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. She has returned to her family home near Detroit to care for her parents, one lost to dementia and the other to sorrow.
Here's my Harry Potter review:
Just let me indulge myself. I saw the new Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, on Friday. I like the Harry Potter movies, and I've seen all four so far at the theatre. I haven't read and have no immediate plans to read any of the books, so I just get to enjoy a new chapter every year or so, without any need (or ability) to compare films to books favorably or unfavorably. I especially enjoyed the first movie (cute and fun with a refreshing and thoroughly British odd charm) and the third (a real film, with a real story and young characters who come off the screen), but all of the movies have been good.
Groan... Jesus, I bored myself just cutting and pasting that over here. Too many parentheses, too much hedging and digression, and just too much crap about nothing anyone might care about. To write well you have to approach language as a fencer, or better yet, a prizefighter. The beauty of language is really evidence of a kind of skill, in the form of speed, force, and rhythm. If your ideas aren't able to take the shape of any of those, who cares what they are? You're never going to get them out.
In this case my big idea was that the movie was okay, but what especially struck me -- apart from the speed, force, and rhythm of Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort -- was how James and Oliver Phelps, the actors who played Ron Weasley's older brothers Fred and George, have turned from gangly teens into really quite beautiful young men. Especially James. Rrarrr.
I was also smitten by Cho Chang, Harry's super-cute would-be girly-friend. Particularly her Scottish accent. Cho is played by Katie Leung, who apparently was born as late as 1987. So I don't know which of the two is less appropriate.
My original title for this review was "Harry Potter: T&A Edition."